Friday, October 26, 2007

Regret

I've spent alot of time this week considering my uterus. It's impossible not to be so contemplative when the big boot of childbirth kicked me out of my secure state of denial earlier this week.

(Review posts from Monday and Tuesday -- the childbearing was not mine.)

I've had some really weepy moments this week, when weepiness (or at least this particular frequency of weepiness) has eluded me for a couple of months now. All the crying has made me feel more frustrated than ever. I know DeDe's giving birth has been hard on my heart, but still, why so hard? I wondered this until I read last night in Hannah's Hope by Jennifer Saake:

True infertility or the loss of a child brings deep grief, but does God's Word validate such anguish? In addition to holding many accounts of barren characters carefully preserved for our benefit, the Bible treats childlessness as truly devastating pain. Proverbs 30:15-16 lists barrenness right up there in the "top three" things that never are satisfied, along with death, drought-devastated land, and fire. When prophesying Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion, Isaiah 53 talks of the Lord having no decendants, noted with as much seriousness as are the oppression and affliction that ultimately led to His murder.
That excerpt helped ease the encumbrance of guilt that has accompanied this pain, and has helped me at least stop questioning my goodness or Godliness as a result of the burden that remains.

The pain of loss is hard, horrible, devastating, but even worse than the pain of loss (at least for me) is the incredible fear of losing again. I have had four known losses in my life -- three in the span of time between one Pap Smear and the next. The emotion that accompanied each loss was increasingly worse, and by the fourth in August, I truly wondered if I was bound for Rusk. (The State Mental Hospital is in Rusk, TX.)

When I lost that August baby, I knew for sure that I was 100% through with childbearing, no doubt about it, done. But by September, the asking started again. The "I'm a great dad, I'm getting older, I really want to have another baby" guilt-trip sort of heart-wrenching asking started again, and I realized I was not 100%-no-doubt-about-it-done. 99.99%, maybe, but not 100%. I figured I should probably pray first before getting back to that 100%, so that's what I set out to do.

My prayer went something like this:
Oh God, first of all, I don't ever want to talk to you about any of this ever again for as long as I live. As you know, this whole childbearing nonsense has been nothing but a struggle for me from day one, and I'm really tired of it all. I don't like hurting, and I don't want to do it anymore, but I do want to do what you want me to do, though I do not think that entails getting pregnant ever again. Ever. But God, James wants to get pregnant again and I don't know how I can move beyond this fear into compliance. I don't want to submit to him or to you. I want to be done and I want to stop hurting, but more than that, I want to serve and honor you and do whatever it is that you would require of me, no matter how much pain comes along. That's what I'll do God, even though I'm pretty sure I'm not going to like it. Please God, don't let whatever you're calling me to include having me get pregnant again. (Unless that really IS what you want for me, at which time, you'll need to provide me with some sort of clear, undeniable sign straight from Heaven.) In Jesus' name, Amen.

Now, neither James nor God will *make* me do what I do not want to do, and realistically, I wouldn't mind being pregnant again. I am not afraid of the being pregnant as much as I am afraid of the not being pregnant anymore. In fact, when I get past all of the junk that makes me high-risk, my pregnancies are lovely. I don't get morning sickness, I eat lots of food without feeling guilty about it, I lose weight, I get plenty of sleep, people do things for me, and for a brief period, I look good in clothes. Pregnancies are the best, until they're over far too soon. It's the fear of that that makes me think, "Uh, no thanks."

But I prayed. I prayed my obligitory prayer. I even included that self-sacrificing (or is it self-righteous?) part about being willing to do whatever with the blah-blah-blah about the pain. And I was willing to do whatever, just as soon as I got that sign. (Considering that God so rarely shows up with a sign -- at least for me -- I just knew that I was in the clear. Phew!)

So, this week I've been extraordinarily contemplative about it all, and alot about the pain of all those babies gone far too soon. That rack is tough. I'm a tough gal, but some days that suffering takes me out. I could not imagine anything worse than that anguish, but in the midst of my contemplation, I remembered something. I remembered what may have been (dare I say it?) a sign. Allow me to explain.

Monday night is the night I lead Celebrate Recovery. The week before this past Monday, a woman had contacted me about general family issues and began attending our group. This Monday was her second time ever to participate. The first week she was there, I said nothing about loss or about our babies, and nothing about Zachary in particular. But this Monday, the woe of my losses (particularly in light of DeDe's experience that day) and the things God was revealing to me about Himself through them made up the bulk of my sharing in group. This woman had already shared in group that night, so she couldn't comment at the time, but when group was over, she caught me outside.

She shared with me that she had lost a baby -- a girl named Victoria -- at 22 weeks eleven years ago. When she talked, she choked back the tears that were filling her eyes. I could see that there was little difference between the affliction of my 180 days and that of her 4015 days. While her understanding my pain was somewhat comforting, her level of continued torment was astonishing. I realized there would never be a time that I would be completely in the clear.

This woman told me her tale of loss, of how her baby died in the womb, and it reminded me of my friend Karen. Karen's baby, Benjamin, became entangled in his cord in January, and was dead a week before anyone realized it. I briefly shared Karen's tragedy and mentioned we should all connect, but followed with the fact that Karen is pregnant again, and is now counting down the days to her induction.

When I mentioned that, something in this woman changed. The torment of her loss was lessened now, and what took it's place in an even more powerful, more painful way, was a very clear, very obvious sense of regret. The fact that her heart had been ripped out upon the death of her daughter now seemed trivial when compared to the incredible regret she carried from not having tried again.

The regret was tangible, palpable, completely undeniable, and I realize now that it would be the same for me. I could see myself in her eleven years from now, and I was startled by the thought. I am afraid of the pain of another loss, but I am terrified by the regret that comes with just giving up. Nothing in this situation is more clear than that. You know, I could be wrong, but this woman coming to me from out of the blue to show me what's worse than the pain I've got seems to be as clear a sign as any.

So, this is what I've taken to James -- this newfound revelation. He understands that I've laid the pursuit of pregnancy down as a sacrifice to God, and recognizes that I am presently unwilling or unable to be the conception clockwatcher. But, he also knows that he feels compelled to pursue the continued growth of our family, and in that, I am willing and able to submit to him in this area. My heart is open to God and to my husband, and the last thing I want to have happen in my life is my accumulating the weight of a new burden just because I'm fearful and stubborn.

I cannot pretend to understand what God has planned for the future. I have no way to know. I really don't even have a way to guess. I know what God CAN do, I just don't know what he WILL do. Despite that, I will serve Him with an open heart and a willing spirit, clinging to the fact that God has very good plans for me, "plans to prosper [me] and not to harm [me], plans to give [me] hope and a future" (Jer. 29:11), and that those plans will be worked out no matter what.

I said all of that to say this:


(I think we may try again.)




"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

"The Lord will work out his plans for my life
— for your faithful love, O Lord,
endures forever."
Psalm 138:8

3 comments:

  • The Dukes Family

    Wow. Not wow because you might try again (I'm stll holding out vast hope that God will lay a sweet, living baby in your open arms) ... but wow because of the process you've gone through this week. What I love, Amanda, is that you didn't just think these thoughts and come to this conclusion - you took it all to God and allowed Him to show you these things. I'm praying for you - that whatever GOd chooses for you, that you'll be able to go there with Him.

  • Amy

    I'm praying for you. I am so glad that God placed that lady in your path, so you can have insight to what could be down the road for you. There is nothing as unsettling as regret. I am glad that you will not have to live in that place someday!

  • Emily

    I hope you know that we have been praying for you. I love you like you are my sister, and I will do anything for you. Whatever you need, please let me know.

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